The Mac world is shaken. IDG News Service‘s Robert McMillan reports that Charlie Miller and two other security researchers from Independent Security Evaluators have hacked the wickedly slim Apple MacBook Air in a fleeting two minutes and walked away with $10,000 cash prize, the gorgeous laptop, and tons of bragging rights in CanSecWest PWN to OWN 2008 contest held in Vancouver. Miller’s earlier claim to fame was in being one of the researchers who first hacked the iPhone last year. That must make him Apple’s most favorite person in the whole world!
This contest, other than giving hackers an opportunity to win big money, aims to present new vulnerabilities in certain systems so that the affected vendors can address them. Open for attack were a Sony VAIO VGN-TZ37CN running Ubuntu 7.10, a Fujitsu U810 running Vista Ultimate SP1, and as mentioned, a MacBook Air running OSX 10.5.2. As of this writing, the VAIO and Fujitsu are still standing strong.
Miller’s team was able to expose MacBook Air’s vulnerability by “tricking” the judges into visiting a Web site where they have already set up an attack code. According to the sponsor’s Web site TippingPoint DVLabs blog, a newly discovered vulnerability in Safari, the browser that comes pre-installed in Air, was used to gain control of the system. Understandably, the more detailed method cannot be made public as previously agreed in a contract signed by the contestants.